The Carrot and The Grass Spider

Once upon a time, there was a garden. It was a perfectly ordinary garden, laden with drooping tomato vines, cucumbers striving to attain saladhood by plotting with the lettuce, and carrots. Many carrots. One of these, somehow, had grown intelligent. It sat there, in the ground, pondering its life and whether or not there was more to do. One day, a large spider came by. The carrot longed to say hello, but the eight legs quickly carried the spider away. The next morning, an even larger spider went by, causing the carrot to wait even longer. It actually got a few words out, but alas, even larger was too focused. The morning after that, the carrot awoke determined not to let it happen again. It felt the tremors in the ground as a spider approached. This morning, it was a small grass spider. A breeze picked up as the eight tiny feet crunched the soil, fluttering the carrot’s leaves. Finally, the as the spider approached, the carrot said., “Wherever could you be going with such a determined look at this time of day?” The carrot gasped a little, realizing it was the longest sentence, to his knowledge, that a carrot had ever said to a spider. Indeed, I think if one was to check all the annals of arachnia/vegetation communication, the syllables uttered would quite outnumber the previously determined record. The grass spider, either unknowing or uncaring of its unique diplomatic position, mumbled under its breath something about being late to undertake an important task.

“My!” the carrot proclaimed on hearing this. “That sounds terribly involving and interesting. Can you tell me more?”

Upon hearing this, the grass spider rolled its eyes. Considering it had eight of them, the process was not as involved as you’d probably think. “If I tell you more, then my morning will be spent telling you more rather than constructing my funnel. Mornings are not for telling, they are for constructing funnels.”

The carrot considered this. “That does seem to be a more productive use than conversing. However, I’ve heard that a shared task is halved, so if you tell me more, maybe I could help in the construction.”

The grass spider now looked directly at the carrot, considering it for a moment. After said moment, the grass spider stated, “You’re a carrot.”

This pleased the carrot. “Yes, yes I am, thank you so much for noticing. And, you are a spider. Tell me, do the stripes mean that you are a wise spider, or some sort of official spider, or…?”

The spider blinked after all these questions. “No, and I don’t wear them because they’re slimming, either. They’re just there. Always been there. Always will be there. You’re a carrot.”

The carrot was getting more interested and excited by this conversation. “Yes, you understand perfectly my position!”

The spider clicked its spinnerets impatiently. “Your position is standing in the dirt. How could you possibly help me with my funnel construction?”

The breeze tossed the leaves atop the carrot. “You are endeavoring,” the carrot said, more anticipation building with each word,” to construct, as I understand it, a funnel. I am, in no small coincidence, rather funnel shaped. Perhaps if you pulled me from the ground, I could be a template, or inspiration, or you could simply weave the web around me and then draw me out whence the funnel is complete.”

The spider clicked its mandibles. “But…you’re a carrot. I’ve never spoken to a carrot before.”

The carrot, not wishing for the conversation to end, said, “Have you ever tried?”

“No,” the spider replied, one leg describing a pattern in the dirt at its side. “I have too much to accomplish to speak to carrots.” After a pause, it added, “Well, usually.”

“But what about my assistance? Surely there’s a place for someone of a more sedentary nature in the world of construction, no?” The carrot was suddenly feeling as though the heretofore anticipated opportunity was slipping through its leafy grasp.

The spider continued to pull its leg through the dirt, the random drawing becoming the funnel it intended to build.  Details went in, support webs in place.

“Also, it’s surely lonely work, putting all that together by one’s self.  Companionship would lighten both the burdens of solitude and task.”  The carrot was particularly proud of this line of reasoning.

The spider stopped drawing, realizing that to a different set of eyes, the drawing of the funnel could, in fact, resemble a carrot.  “Suppose,” the spider said, “suppose, just for an instant, that I did decide to take you along on this task.”

“Oh, please, let’s suppose that,” the carrot said, suddenly new hope burning alight.

The spider began to pace, small circles around in front of the carrot.  “You are in the ground, are you not?”  The carrot looked down, and when no contrary argument was forthcoming, the spider continued.  “You say that there is a place for you in my day’s work.  However, I planned to build today in the lower branches of a tree, not on the ground.  As you, a carrot, have no means of locomotion, if I were to use you, I’d have to carry you along, correct?”

The carrot agreed, following with, “The effort would be ever so worthwhile.   You are a stimulating conversationalist.”

Acknowledging the compliment with such a bow as grass spiders can manage, the spider continued, “For a vegetable, your erudition is quite pleasing, also.  But, presume that I did manage to get you to the site, what then?”

The carrot was prepared for this.  “You could simply weave your web around me, enabling you to have a tighter, straighter funnel than ever before.”

After a moment, the spider looked up.  “You propose I weave around you, so that the funnel would have your shape, correct?  But then, at the end, you’d be in the funnel, and how would I get you out?”

Indeed, this was something the carrot had not considered.  “Perhaps,” the carrot said, considering the problem, “you could pull the funnel off, reversing it as you did.  I’d be out of the funnel, and the funnel would retain its shape, only in reverse.”

The spider was quick to spot the error in logic.  “But, once I pulled the funnel off, you would fall down and very likely be broken.  It seems that an inordinate amount of work would be involved which would lead to very little gain.”

For a long moment, the only sound in the garden was the rustling of less talkative vegetables as the breeze blew.  The carrot finally said, “Well, will you at least tell me what happens with your funnel?  After you build it by yourself without any template?”

The spider’s many eyes narrowed.  “Why, are you going to build a funnel of your own?  I did not think carrots would be interested in the same kind of prey as me.”

“Oh, I’m not at all interested in prey. I only want to know more about the world than being myself will tell me.  I know all about carrot existence, so now I want to know about other kinds of existence.  Spiders are interesting creatures, so I thought starting with spider existence would be a good thing.”

The spider wasn’t quite sure how to deal with this.  “But what could you possibly want to know?  You have no spinnerets, you have no legs, how will you understand my existence?”

“You could tell me.”  The carrot’s enthusiasm was palpable.  “And I could similarly inform you as to what it is like to be a carrot.”

Four or five of the spider’s legs moved, pulling the spider back slightly.  “What it is like…to be a carrot?  Do you not just sit there?”

“Oh, my, no,” the carrot said.  “I take in air, I grow, and mostly, I think.”  Had the carrot a head, it would have nodded encouragingly.  “Yes, I think, and wonder about things.”

“I must leave,” the spider said.  “I will leave you to think, so that I can build my web.”  Feeling that something unsaid needed to be said, the spider continued, “I am sorry you could not help with my funnel.”

The spider moved off  quickly.  The carrot was pleased with the conversation, if not with its result.  It sighed, watching the world pass by.  The sun was warm against the carrot in a most satisfying way.

Many thoughts later, the carrot was pulled from its reverie by a sound it didn’t recognize.   It looked around, and saw the spider.  The spider looked a little more tired than it had in the morning.

“Hello, again,” the spider said.

“How was the funnel?” the carrot asked, no trace of irony or disappointment in its voice.

The spider hesitated.  “The funnel was…the funnel was fine.”  Taking a step closer, as though afraid the rest of the garden might hear, the spider said, “I spent all day weaving, and I could not stop thinking.  I was wondering if what I was doing was enough like a carrot.”

The carrot was delighted.  “I’m sure it was a fine funnel.”

The spider walked in a circle.  “Will you tell me what it is like to be a carrot?”

The carrot assented, but only if the spider would similarly speak of life as an arachnid.  The carrot could not, even after many conversations, form a funnel shaped web.  Neither could the grass spider take in sunlight to make food, but theirs was a friendship built on learning the differences.  It was not a terribly long friendship, but it was satisfying to both.  They both discovered there are things they didn’t know, and that discovery, and many others, is better when shared.

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